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Elm City Brings Pro Soccer to New Haven

Billy Sackmann, Sports Editor

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New Haven is a city with a rich history of sports, both collegiate and professional. However, no professional teams currently call the city home. That is set to change, as the Elm City Express are set to start play this May.

The Elm City Express is a completely new team, set to participate in the 2017 season of the National Premier Soccer League. The Express are one of 21 teams that will begin play this summer, bringing the total number of teams in the fourth tier league to 92. The Express will play in the Atlantic Conference of the Northeast region. This will pit them against Hartford City FC, an expected in-state rivalry, as well as other teams spanning New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

The club was officially founded on January 9, 2017 by team president Zack Henry, and his close friend Brian Neumeyer who was named the team’s general manager. Henry also owns a team, Clube Atlético Tubarão, in Brazil, and hopes to one day operate a European team.

The new soccer club will make its home at Reese Stadium in New Haven on the Yale athletic campus. They will play on the same field as Yale’s Men’s and Women’s soccer teams, but because the Express play a summer schedule there will be little to no conflict. Henry said the team will work closely with Yale athletic staff to create a professional atmosphere from day one.

This professional atmosphere is something both Henry and Neumeyer stressed as the key draw for the new team. In the National Premier Soccer League, teams vary in skill level and style, and can choose to employ either amateurs or professionals, not both. The Express will be taking a professional approach and will start building their team around select players from Henry’s Brazilian team. However, he was clear he didn’t want an all-foreign team, and will be trying out players from around the country before the season’s start in May.

Enthusiastic soccer fans from New Haven are already laying the groundwork for a supporters’ club. After all, the team could be as professional as possible and win all its games, but it would be meaningless without a strong fan base. The fans pioneering the club have said they’ve been waiting for a professional sports team in New Haven for years, and couldn’t be more excited the Express are filling that gap. Reese Stadium seats around 1,700 and tickets are expected to be offered at a budget price. With these factors in place, the fan support is set to hit the ground running in May.

New Haven’s rich sports history, spanning from championship teams at Yale and Southern Connecticut State University, to the New York Giants calling the Yale Bowl home in the 1970s, is about to enter a new chapter. The Elm City Express will give soccer fans and sports fans alike a new experience, and also provides a new form of entertainment to the area. When speaking about bringing the team here, Neumeyer said “We want to give the city of New Haven what its been craving. A professional sports team.”

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Elm City Brings Pro Soccer to New Haven